The campus health clinic’s appointment schedule filled quicker than usual during the last couple weeks due to various sicknesses spreading around campus.
Many students said they had trouble finding a time to see a practitioner.
“I called during their hours, but nobody answered,” said Daniel Etti-Williams, acting sophomore. “When I called again, they couldn’t fit me for two more days because of my schedule. It’s inconvenient that they all take their lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. because that’s when most people probably have time to go.”
When a student calls the clinic, Clinic Manager Alyson Dent first asks about the student’s symptoms. She then asks about their insurance and the length of time they have been experiencing their symptoms. From there, she tries to schedule an appointment.
“Right now is a weird time because a lot of people are sick, but usually, we get a lot of the same types of issues,” Dent said. “In an emergency situation, we screen the patient and tell them their options, but we rarely see true emergencies.”
The clinic employs a rotating staff of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The number changes, but eight providers currently cycle through the clinic, splitting their time via a schedule that changes each month.
About three years ago, the clinic employed one full-time nurse practitioner, but when OCU started the physician assistant program, the clinic utilized those resources, employing faculty from the program, Dent said. The nurse practitioners, who also come from the physician assistant program, were added into the rotation within the past year to add more providers to the schedule.
Adrienne Pierce, acting junior, said there are still not enough practitioners to accommodate students’ needs.
“Everyone at the clinic is organized and knows what they’re doing, but the practitioners are only there in the mornings most days,” Pierce said. “The availability is my only real complaint, but I don’t even really call there anymore unless it’s something that can wait quite a while. I have insurance through the school, though, so it would be comforting if I could go there when my situation is more of an emergency.”
OCU’s website lists clinic hours as 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but that does not guarantee a provider will be there during those times. At any time, clinic staff members can give vaccinations and screen patients. Prescriptions and diagnoses can be handled only by scheduling an appointment with a provider.
This month’s calendar has providers scheduled for full days on Mondays and Tuesdays and half-days Wednesday through Friday.
If a student calls early in the morning, a provider usually can fit them in that day or the next day at the latest, Dent said.
“Sometimes students’ schedules don’t match up with ours, so they go somewhere else or say we turned them away,” Dent said. “We don’t ever turn anyone away, though, unless we aren’t equipped to handle the issue.”
The health clinic operates similarly to an urgent care clinic, treating immediate injuries and illnesses that are not serious enough to require an emergency room visit, Dent said. In the case of injuries, the campus health clinic often acts as the first contact point. They do not have an X-ray machine, so if the injury is serious enough to require that, staff will send students elsewhere, Dent said.
To contact student health or schedule an appointment with the clinic, call (405) 208-5090 or email their confidential email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.